How is it possible, I’ve pondered for a long time, a fraction of humanity can oppress billions of people globally? It’s only after going through a life altering journey, one filled with hardships and blessings, that I’ve come to realize the source of most of this world’s iniquities. There was a time when I used to view justice through a prism of just me; I protested and marched on issues that impacted “my people” only to be silent and mum when others who don’t share my complexion or ideology were being ramrodded by the same injuries I was protesting against.
After going through the storm and emerging from the fires of hell with greater blessings than I had before injustice darkened my doorsteps, I understand with full clarity why humanity is devolving slowly into the abyss of animus and repression. I no longer have to wonder how nearly eight billion people can be turned into indentured servants of a few who run this world through a mix of deception and cruelty. I thought only “Africans” were victims of divide and conquer deviltry; I see now that the whole world is being sliced and diced into ghettos of grievances in order to pit brothers against sisters and to have us clawing at fellow strugglers.
Yet, there is something else greater than the mendacity of the few who oppress the many. At the core, the reason that we give our hands to tyrants and those who manipulate our emotions is because we are people who are hurting. Pain is a connective tissue that binds all of humanity; prince to pauper, none can escape the wounds that come with living life on earth. Pains beget pains; when we don’t address the core of our original hurt, we end up living life through a prism of cyclical agony and remorse that morphs into outward or inward violence.
Most people are familiar with the saying “hurt people hurt people”; this is one of the most profound and truest statements I’ve ever heard. The more people suffer from the hardships of life, the more they lash out. This lashing out takes one of two forms; people either lash out and try to break others or they lash in and break themselves. The more distress people go through, the more they make it their purpose to spread the disease of hate and animosity to the world. In the age of social media and omnipresent technology, it is getting easier and easier to partake in hostility and declare unholy wars on others. It’s as though the 1s, 0s and data bits of the internet is pixilating everyone into abstract enemies that need to be conquered unless they think and look like us.
As we try to conquer others, we end up defeating ourselves. The need to be proven right and the desire to disprove others is leading us down the path of conflicts that all of us should tremble at the thought of. Revolutions are fun until bodies start dropping and we have to bury our children. Yet we are too caught up in anger and emotional release to realize where we are being led as a people. This is the precise problem; people too enraged and caught up in emotions are susceptible to being manipulated by demagogues and firebrands whose purpose is to splinter humanity into never ending factions. Our factionalism is the reason that a fractional few are able to impose their will on all of us.
At the root of unrest and injustice is economic inequality and the inability to keep up with the rent; lack of opportunity and financial anxiety is the womb which gives birth to all other social ills. A child that goes to sleep hungry in Omaha shares the same plight as a child who does not get three square meals a day in Atlanta. From Aleppo, Addis Abeba, to Alabama and beyond, the struggle of one is the struggle felt by all. Even those who count themselves upper middle-class and view themselves as “success stories” are but a few missed paychecks away from economic disaster. There is enough abundance on this earth for 20 billion people let alone eight billion; individual gain is leading to collective dissension, it is time for us to start thinking about collective success. Our struggles are interconnected; the solution is unity and togetherness.
I’m writing this article in the hope that maybe more and more of us can stop and reflect on this path humanity is traveling. The sad thing is that this article will get a fraction of views that other articles I’ve written related to more “mainstream” topics have garnered. Thousands have read and shared the Jay Z article (read From Judas to Jay Z); yet this article that speaks of our common humanity and a hope for a better future will get the attention of fewer readers that an article about a nitwit rapper.
There is a part of our spirit that is drawn towards the outrageous and sensationalism as we disregard the things that are of substance. This is why we gravitate to politicians who are proven liars and why we tend to fawn over the rich and famous even though they care not an iota about us. Our brokenness makes us feel insignificant; the world by extension convinces us that the way we would be made whole is to get more and more. This is why nothing is ever enough; we get a new car only to desire a newer one after a few months. A new home begets a desire for a bigger house; consumption is consuming us yet we keep thinking that gaining more possessions is the way to happiness.
This is why we treat the least among us with such negligence and why we revere those who have wealth as though they walk on water. We don’t want to be “those people”—the ones who have lesser fortunes—so we idolize the ones with greater wealth because we want to be like them. Sojourner Truth once said “the rich rob the poor; the poor rob one another”; we expend our energies fighting those who struggle and hurt just like us because they remind us of us. They remind us of us. I had to repeat that one more time to let it sink in; we are bashing other people who hurt because they remind us of our hurts.
I am not preaching here, I too struggle with this germ of ego that is the cause of all this strife. Just today, someone made a snide remark and I took great pleasure in putting that man in his place. I should know better; fighting fire with fire is folly at its apex—the only thing that emerges from duels of flames is two burn victims. I am committing myself for the next 48 hours to not return any unkind act with my unkind gestures. I am asking you to join in this quest and in the process see if we can use social media to spread goodwill and love towards our fellow women and men.
Whether you cite this article or not is inconsequential; I leave that to your discretion. Instead of using social media to discuss #MS13 or #DancingWithTheStars, both trending on Twitter at this moment, use #WhyInjusticeFesters and then start discussions about why people suffer and what we can do to heal this planet. What I hope is that “black” and “white”, conservatives and liberals, and all stripes in between will take up this challenge and have conversations about the iniquities of this world not through a prism of exclusion but through the lens of inclusion. That is the challenge for the day I am putting forth to Ghion Journal readers; consider this the ember, I hope others join in an spark a light for universal justice.
It is easier to hurt those who hurt like us instead of standing against those who hurt all of us::
The above is a tweet I sent earlier that is currently an ember on Twitter. If you want to take part in this “social movement” of sorts, send out your own tweets and status updates on social networks using #WhyInjusticeFesters and let others know about this idea.
Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss how the very things we hold on to, artificial constructs of identity and the ideologies of the powerful, serve to be the source of societal conflicts and global warfare.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.